NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Fired Palm Beach County Fire Rescue division chief requests name-clearing hearing

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 06:02:25-05

Former Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Division Chief Chris Hoch, fired from his position just last week, wants to defend himself.

County officials tell Contact 5, Hoch, through his lawyers at Berman and Berman, has asked for a name-clearing hearing.  

According to the county, a name-clearing hearing would involve Hoch and Fire Rescue's Interim Chief Michael Mackey, as well as some county officials. At the hearing both Hoch, his lawyers, and officials can "state whatever is deemed relevant regarding his employment and termination." A transcript of that hearing is then placed in his personnel file. 

Although the county nor department will give a reason for Hoch's termination, Contact 5 sources continue to say Hoch had been on the county's radar, since he admitted during a county HR investigation, that he repeated sexual based rumors about a female captain, who is now suing the department. 

In the same email requesting his name-clearing hearing, lawyers for Hoch add that Hoch was "refused an answer when asked why he was being terminated." They've also asked for "adequate notice as to what exactly he is clearing his name of and what allegations have been made against him specifically."

In response to Hoch's lawyers, County Attorney David Ottey says Hoch can get a hearing, but because he is an at-will employee, they do not have to tell him why he was fired. They add that "no allegations have been made against him by the County." 

Ottey also says, that if Hoch wants to ultimately skip the hearing, he can instead give them a written statement that will then go into his personnel file.

More than two weeks ago, former Chief Administrator Jeff Collins resigned, after sources tell Contact 5 the county was not happy with the way he handled sexual harassment complaints. Deputy Chief Thomas Tolbert resigned last week, the same day Hoch was fired. 

Email the Contact 5 Investigators
Share your news tips and story ideas with WPTV's investigations team.